Supergirl Series Premiere Review

Supergirl (CBS) "Pilot" Episode 1 (Season Premiere 2015) (2)

After a long summer of promotions, think-pieces, and all kinds of opinions both positive and negative, Supergirl has finally arrived on CBS. As someone who found the initial trailer to be just a bit too goofy, I ultimately found myself excited for the series premiere and the promise of a show that could finally meet the potential of past shows like Smallville and bring Kryptonian-level action to the small screen. And though this pilot plays as by the numbers as pretty much any superhero pilot does, this was still a promising start for the Girl of Steel.

As you’d expect of a solo superhero series, the show lives and dies on its title character, and Supergirl nails it with the casting of Melissa Benoist. Benoist excels at giving Kara a sense of goofy optimism, while also selling the lifelong self-doubt that has kept her from embracing her superpowers before. Here, we get to see that all it takes is a slight nudge for her to make the jump from office assistant to superhero, and though she’ll still struggle with her place in the world moving forward, Benoist makes you want to follow along with Kara’s journey.

The supporting cast is not surprisingly underserved in this premiere, but what we got suggested a solid group of characters are populating National City. Cat Grant is a bit of a Devil Wears Prada caricature right now, but Calista Flockhart is clearly having fun in the role. Mehcad Brooks, meanwhile, makes for a solid take on an older, more confident James Olsen, and the reveal that Kara’s adoptive sister Alex is actually a DEO agent gives her a greater purpose in the narrative. And, with the exception of Cat Grant, the fact that everyone already knows her secret identity will allow the show to avoid that whole narrative dead-end.

On the whole, this level of quality extends to the entire episode. The score is exciting, while calling back to the classic Christopher Reeves Superman films. The visual effects are solid, exactly what you need to sell Supergirl’s power set. And the costuming work is great, with Supergirl’s outfit proving yet another great live-action interpretation of a comic book look.

Really, the biggest problem with this premiere is how fast it has to move in order to establish the world and characters. There’s not a whole lot of room for character moments as a result of all the plot, but what we get is enough to inspire confidence in where the show is going. And really, the fact that nothing ever feels strained shows a good control of pacing that should serve the show well.

Finally, it’s worth noting that though this series clearly takes place in its own separate continuity from the Arrowverse, there’s still room for possible crossovers between all of Greg Berlanti’s many superhero shows. After all, The Flash did introduce multiple realities this season. Though that’s a possibility for another day. For now, Supergirl stands well on its own, and has all the makings of a hit for CBS.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!